That never happened. And now that he's found his groove, Lewis is a big reason the Magic are the NBA's first 15-game winner.
Lewis scored 17 of his 20 points in the third quarter, helping the Magic (15-4) pull away for an easy 118-104 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
His suspension for testing positive for an elevated testosterone level is behind him, and Lewis just counts that as another positive for his team.
"There's a number of things that we want to do to let people know that we are a good team," he said.
Wilson Chandler had 24 points, and Danilo Gallinari added 20 points for the struggling Knicks, who have lost six of their last seven games. Reserve Nate Robinson didn't play for the Knicks even after the guard scored 24 points -- 22 in the fourth quarter -- in a loss to the Magic last week in New York.
"We want to win, and if he's conducive to winning, then he'll obviously be back in the lineup," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "If not, then not. I'm not going to explain everything. I did not play Darko (Milicic). No one asked me about that. Why didn't I play Marcus (Landry) last game? We could go through the whole thing.
"I won't sit here and explain it, and it's something that we're trying to build a winning group."
Robinson said he did not expect to be benched.
"It's something where you've got to take the good with the bad," Robinson said. "Be ready to play whenever you're number is called. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do everything I can to be that good teammate."
It took the Magic time to find their mark.
After a slow start from beyond the arc, Orlando's potent 3-point shooters finally came alive. And the Knicks' shaky defense didn't do much to stop them.
Lewis and Pietrus highlighted a big third-quarter push, making a flurry of 3-pointers during a stretch that had D'Antoni stomping his foot and screaming for timeouts.
"It's good. Now he can get it going in the first half and make it less interesting," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of Lewis. "Two real good second halves, and I think that's key. The more we can get him going, the better."
The breaks did little to slow the Magic's run.
Lewis followed one of D'Antoni's timeouts by making a running layup, then back-to-back 3-pointers that only frustrated New York's coach. With every make, D'Antoni kept crossing his arms and looking down the bench for answers, but his team couldn't do much to slow Orlando.
Lewis said that the Magic's record, even with his suspension, only shows how much they believe they can contend for a title.
"It lets you know that we have a deep team," he said. "We have a lot of guys that can help us win games. We have a deep bench. Our starters are playing well for us, but we got a lot of guys that we can go to any night."
New York wasn't the only team struggling early.
The Magic (14.3 percent) and the Knicks (18.2 percent) shot poorly from 3-point range in the first half, and defense in the paint was spotty at best. Orlando's crowd was largely lethargic for most of the half until Lewis swatted a fast-break layup by Gallinari from behind in the final minutes.
Wearing their old black pinstripe uniforms, the Magic sprinted out to a 12-point lead on a pair of dunks by Howard only to watch that cushion dwindle. But Orlando's big man was enough to help his team go ahead 51-39 at intermission until the Magic poured it on late.
"It's always good to get wins," Van Gundy said. "At the end of the day, one win in December is as good as one win in March or April."
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